story by Seth Friedermann
photos by Stephen Bodi
web editor Rachel Reneé
The act of romanticizing a bygone time and place is in and of itself a lovely thing to do. Floating and free of the frightening knowledge that if you had been alive then you could have, say, never used the Internet or had access to trusty penicillin. In creating his Fall 2012 collection, Tadashi Shoji was entranced by the golden age of Shanghai, of the late 1920s and 30s. Shanghai is one of Mr. Shoji’s favorite places and with this collection he paid homage to the city’s legendary past. Incredibly romantic, soft, and supple pieces glided down the runway one after another, creating a hypnotic effect. The entire Lincoln Center crowd was wrapped in Mr Shoji’s warm nostalgic reverence.
When I spoke with Mr Shoji backstage prior to the show, he stressed how the technical demands of the fabrics that were popular in that period altered his approach to the collection. His past seasons had included many diagonal shirred and raw edged silks that lent a certain organic feel to the clothes. Those techniques simple are not possible with the stunning laces, chiffons, and silk velvets that populated Mr. Shoji’s new Fall collection. He was, however, able to include his trademark tiers to great effect, though the layers ran parallel to each other as opposed to the diagonal cuts of his recent work. This change did not dim in the slightest the brilliance of this elegant and stunning collection.
Mr Shoji’s chosen palette of rich jewel tones sealed the visual power of the long supple silk velvets, and the choice of black for the high-neck concentric oval lace pieces added just a touch of dangerous mystery. The closing red velvet cowl-necked gown was an absolute masterpiece and sent the collection into the collective memory on a supremely correct note. Mr. Shoji’s Collection read like a great detective novel by Dashiell Hammet. These are the uptown dames who possess wealth and glamor and can weave you under their spell, even when you’re as hard boiled as Sam Spade. It was a magical collection and further proof that Tadashi Shoji is a force to be reckoned with in the world of red carpets and gala night’s out on a city’s glittering streets. Even if that city is now and not the famed “Pearl of the Orient”.